“Rising from Ashes” is a feature length documentary about two worlds colliding when cycling legend Jock Boyer moves to Rwanda, Africa to help a group of struggling genocide survivors pursue their dream of a national team. As they set out against impossible odds both Jock and the team find new purpose as they rise from the ashes of their past.
This documentary feature film Rising From Ashes was created with a common goal, to tell a story of redemption, hope, and second chances. It was not about the bike, however, the bicycle became a tool that has changed a nation.
Rising From Ashes has been produced by two partnering non-profit organizations, Gratis 7 Media Group and Project Rwanda. Many have believed in the project over the past 6 years and have generously provided over $800,000 in funding. The film has been completely donor funded and we currently have no debt on the motion picture.
Team Rwanda started out as a cycling organization however they quickly learned they had to care for the greater needs of each athlete. Many of the riders could not read or write, lived in homes without water, electricity, were malnourished, and had never received healthcare, or even knew what a dentist was. But there was still a greater issue, the issues of the heart. These riders were all recovering from the traumatic psychological effects of the 1994 genocide. Team Rwanda had to look deeper.
Team Rwanda has not solved all of these problems but it is making a difference. Riders are provided a modest salary to help provide for themselves and their families, equivalent to three times the national average income. Riders are given English lessons and taught how to read and write. Healthcare is provided for the ongoing issues of malaria and water born diseases. When funds are available, the riders are given regular health checks and dental care. The riders are given the responsibility of being ambassadors for their country to the World.
While the team has taken care of the physical and mental issues it has provided something greater… hope. Rwanda is a country recovering from one of the World’s most devastating genocides and they have longed for heroes. The riders of Team Rwanda have become more then just a cycling team, they have become ambassadors of hope and men to look up to. They have given the country a vision of something greater then themselves and a renewed sense of purpose.
Rising From Ashes is more than a movie, it’s a story tool that relates to each and every one of us. It’s a gateway of hope. But this is just the beginning. Since 2005 Team Rwanda has developed a model for caring for passionate athletes and it’s about to expand the vision. In 2012 Team Rwanda will begin the next phase, the development of Africa’s first all black, all African team to attempt the greatest cycling event in the world, The Tour de France.
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“Cycling is an excruciating sport—a rider’s power is only as great as his capacity to endure pain—and it is often remarked that the best cyclists experience their physical agonies as a relief from private torments. The bike gives suffering a purpose.”
– The New Yorker on Team Rwanda
“As a seven-year-old, Adrien miraculously survived the slaughter (genocide) and is now the No.1 mountain biker on the biggest cycling team in Africa. He will be, without doubt, the most extraordinary athlete at the 2012 Olympic Games.”
– Sports Illustrated
“In London, Adrien Niyonshuti looks likely to rub shoulders with many other big names both in and out of the world of cycling. But the reality is that few, if any, will have had a more remarkable journey to get there.”
– The Evening Standard London